Daily Mail Accused Of Channeling Nazi Germany In Anti-Refugee Cartoon

November 17, 2015 by  
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The Daily Mail just went there.

“There” being Nazi Europe circa 1939, as seen through the lens of propaganda-laden cartoons depicting the Jews as rats to be swept out of Germany. British cartoonist Stanley “Mac” McMurtry borrowed heavily from that imagery for his latest piece in The Daily Mail. Instead of Jews, however, the “rats” are a horde of Muslims:

In the foreground of Mac’s cartoon, a man in a tunic carries a mat, presumably for praying. Just past him, the darkened silhouette of a woman in a hijab walks toward a sign that boasts of “open borders” and “the free movement of people.” ”Welcome to Europe,” it reads. 

Another man, already past the sign, is unidentifiable but for the muzzle of a rifle poking ever so slightly into the air from his back. Lest there be any doubt about the ominously shadowed man’s true nature, an unkempt beard sprouts from his face, his head topped with a Pashtun cap of the sort worn by Afghanistan’s mujahideen.

All the while, rats scurry between the immigrants’ feet.

Soon after The Daily Mail published Mac’s cartoon, Internet commenters linked it to this work, published in a Viennese newspaper by the name of “Das Kleine Blatt” in 1939:

The work depicts a swarm of rats, wiped from the doorstep of Germany, then delights as they’re barred entry from ”democratic” countries — the same ones critical of Germany’s treatment of the Jews.

Upwards of 750,000 refugees have sought asylum in Europe so far this year, many of them fleeing violence in the Middle East. A prevailing — if overblown – concern has been that religious extremists might infiltrate countries by posing as a refugee.

Here are some of the reactions to the Daily Mail’s cartoon on social media:

Daily Mail chooses to publish symbolism -rats – associated with Nazi propaganda in cartoon today. Insensitive & inflammatory @DailyMailUK

— Gary Rawnsley (@GDRaber) November 17, 2015

Can anyone explain why we prosecute ranting drunks on trains for incitement to racial hatred, but not likes of this? https://t.co/VqhVgTD8aI

— Ally Fogg (@AllyFogg) November 17, 2015

@Cuphook108 @WingsScotland I'm completely disgusted. How was that ever allowed to be published? What level of ignorance required for that?

— tracey purnell (@trangpang) November 17, 2015

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Fox News Host Calls Refugee Resettlement ‘Forced Infiltration’

November 16, 2015 by  
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Fox News is letting its xenophobic flag fly again, this time with the hosts of “Fox & Friends Weekend” arguing against the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the U.S.

“Do you know what I’m so struck by, is that no one has asked the American people their view of this,” said co-host and Daily Caller Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson during the Sunday conversation. “It’s your town, and yet your consent is never requested.”

The Fox hosts’ fear-mongering comes in the wake of a series of terrorist attacks in Paris Friday night, which left over 120 people dead. The Islamic State, which is based in the Syrian city of Raqqa, claimed responsibility for the assault, and a Syrian passport was found near one of the suicide bombers.

The war in Syria has displaced millions of people. In September, President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. would accept 10,000 Syrian refugees during this fiscal year.

“It’s forced infiltration,” co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle said of the country accepting Syrian refugees, many of whom are fleeing the type of violence Paris experienced over the weekend.

“Completely,” Carlson responded. “And if you raise your hand and say ‘Wait, what’s the point of this?’ Shut up, nativist — you’re attacked. Your motives are attacked. It’s really undemocratic.”

Guilfoyle blamed politicians for allowing Syrian refugees to be resettled in the U.S., and took specific aim at Democratic presidential candidates following Saturday’s CBS primary debate.

“They’re afraid to even name the enemy and to be specific about what they want to achieve,” she said of the candidates. “That’s why they have no mission focus. That’s why they have no strategy, because they’re putting political correctness over national security, and it is crippling this country and we see what its doing in Europe.”

The Fox conversation was followed Monday by news that several U.S. governors said they won’t allow Syrian refugees into their states. It’s not clear whether the leaders would actually be able to block these people from entering, however.

Watch the clip from “Fox & Friends Weekend” above.

H/T Media Matters 

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Why A Backlash Against Refugees Only Helps ISIS

November 15, 2015 by  
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Almost immediately after the Islamic State claimed responsibility for killing at least 129 and wounding hundreds more in a series of terror attacks in Paris on Friday night, a number of conservative groups tied European immigration policies to the attacks. But some experts warn that anti-immigration rhetoric could play into the hands of extremists. 

The criticism of immigration intensified after French authorities revealed that a Syrian passport was found near the body of one of the attackers. It is currently unclear how the passport got there, and there is mounting evidence it is a fake, as well as the possibility it was stolen. However, someone carrying the document did travel from Turkey, through Greece and the Balkans, to Western Europe.  

Poland’s conservative government announced after the passport was found that it would renege on an agreement to take in thousands of refugees over safety concerns.

Other European populist politicians, such as the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders, called on their governments to close their borders and deemed Muslim immigrants a security threat.

In France, the leader of the populist conservative National Front party, Marine Le Pen, also called on Saturday for strict border controls and the expulsion of undocumented migrants from France, while a member of German regional government, Markus Soder, spoke out against his country’s open immigration policy, arguing that “Paris changes everything.”

Over 700,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in Europe this year, half of them Syrians who had fled their country’s brutal civil war and attacks from the Islamic State. 

Europe has struggled to find a common policy to address the humanitarian crisis, resulting in a massive influx of largely unregulated migration. Security deterrents such as border fences have done little to stop people seeking safety and asylum, as constantly shifting routes result in new ways for people to enter the continent.

Human rights experts and political analysts warn that the closed-door policies that anti-immigration supporters advocate could cause further radicalization and exacerbate an already dire humanitarian crisis.

“It really is a very dangerous moment for Europe; right-wing politicians are taking advantage of this horrific massacre to try to whip up anti-immigrant sentiment, but it’s a moment for Europe to pause and really think about what lies ahead,” Peter Bouckaert, emergency director of Human Rights Watch, told The WorldPost.

“It’s simply impossible for Europe to shut the door on the flow of people trying to come to Western Europe; they will continue to come,” he continued.

European nations are therefore faced with a choice between continuing the current chaos of clandestine arrivals to Europe, or establishing a unified policy to allow the processing and resettlement of refugees, Bouckaert said.

“With a more coherent policy, you are going to be able to have people get safe and legal passage into Europe,” he said, “and you are also going to have the security controls you need to avoid these tragedies in the future.”

Analysts also raise concern over what implications a backlash against France’s and Europe’s Muslim populations will have.

“Anti-Muslim and anti-refugee sentiment really play into ISIS’ hands,” Shadi Hamid, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and an author on Islamist politics, told The WorldPost. “The more that happens, the more French Muslims feel alienated and are susceptible to extremist recruitment.”

“France has long had a problem with integrating its Muslim population, and France does have a disproportionately high contribution of foreign fighters to ISIS,” Hamid said. “So there’s a deeper issue here and it hasn’t gotten better, it’s only gotten worse.”

The attacks have heightened anti-immigration rhetoric outside of Europe as well, with politicians in the United States weighing in on how to deal with the refugee crisis following the Paris attacks.

On Sunday, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said in an interview on CNN that U.S. aid to refugees should be based on religion – prioritizing Christians — while other candidates have called for an outright ban on resettling refugees from the Middle East.

Bush also stated that the war against the Islamic State was a “fight for Western civilization,” a statement Hamid said plays directly into the group’s propaganda that frames its fight as an apocalyptic war against Western crusaders. 

“You hear Republicans saying clash of civilizations and civilizational war, and they don’t realize that’s exactly what ISIS wants us to be saying,” Hamid said. “It’s remarkable to me, and just shows a very basic lack of understanding of the threat that we face.”   

Read More Paris Coverage

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The New York Times Fires Two Veteran Editors

November 14, 2015 by  
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NEW YORK — The New York Times abruptly fired two veteran editors on Thursday, a move that’s shocked the newsroom given the journalists’ years of dedication and because layoffs aren’t currently taking place.

Kyle Massey and Vanessa Gordon, who were both assistant news editors, worked at The Times for 16 and 20 years, respectively. They were each notified on Thursday and had to leave the newsroom that day.

Massey and Gordon both separately confirmed to The Huffington Post that they no longer work at The Times. They each declined to comment further. 

A Times spokeswoman said the paper does not comment on personnel issues.

The two longtime editors played key roles in the print operation, which is currently being reorganized. Though the re-tooling of the print side may account for their positions being cut, management did not explain the decision to staffers Thursday, according to newsroom sources. Management’s handling of the situation was out of character for The Times, sources said. 

The Times has gone through a series of layoffs and buyouts in recent years, including 2014, yet has maintained a robust newsroom by redeploying resources to growth areas such as digital, video and audience engagement. 

The two dismissals come on the heels of executive editor Dean Baquet informing staff earlier this month that The Times would offer buyouts in the video department as part of a reorganization and that layoffs were possible. Baquet’s memo surprised staffers given that video is an area that’s been expanding. 

Baquet has not informed staff of any potential layoffs in other parts of the organization, leaving colleagues puzzled by the dismissal of the two veteran editors. 

Gordon joined The Times in 1995 from the Philadelphia Inquirer and has worked in layout as a copy editor, and for the past decade as an assistant news editor.

Massey began his career as a sportswriter for the Log Cabin Democrat in Conway, Arkansas. He next spent a decade at the Little Rock-based Arkansas Democrat-Gazette before heading to the Charlotte Observer as a copy editor. He joined The Times in 1999 as copy chief for the Metro desk.

Massey, who has been described as The Times “headline guru,” oversaw many of the paper’s top headlines each day and filed and in-house critique each week for the standards editor. He’s also written several pieces for Times Insider on newsroom processes, including changes to the legendary Page One meeting, and the art of headline writing at The Times. 

“The best heads are skillful, informative and terse,” Massey wrote last year. “Times headlines also have a definite tone that readers have come to expect: knowing and sophisticated but often wry, funny or poignant. The kinds of puns readers expect from other publications — tabloids in particular — are rare in our report, or should be. We wouldn’t put ‘Headless Body in Topless Bar’ on the front page, even though most of us would admit that it’s genius. It just isn’t our tone.”

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Newspapers Around The World Cover Paris Attacks

November 13, 2015 by  
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People across the world woke up to headlines about Friday’s horrific attacks in Paris.

Over 100 people were killed in a series of shootings and explosions across the French capitol. French President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency as soldiers poured into the city.

Here’s how media around the world are covering the violence:




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Teen Vogue Is Not Ending Its Print Run, Contrary To Rumors

November 12, 2015 by  
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The Internet was abuzz Thursday with rumors that Teen Vogue, the beloved offshoot publication of Vogue that launched in 2003, would shutter. 

Vogue, however, announced Thursday afternoon in a statement that it will absorb Teen Vogue only from the business side, with the editorial side remaining intact as of now. 

The younger magazine has evolved into a staple for both teenage and adult fashion lovers alike over its 13-year-run, recently receiving high praise for featuring three models of color on its Aug. 2015 cover.  

Teen Vogue will continue to roll out on digital platforms, its monthly print form and on social media, a magazine spokesperson said. A statement released by Vogue announced the glossy’s publisher Jason Wagenheim is leaving, and the teams at Vogue and Teen Vogue will be marketed together: 

Teen Vogue will continue to operate independently, with the same frequency, and have its distinct voice. As Artistic Director, [Vogue editor-in-chief] Anna [Wintour] will continue to oversee editorial operations, with [Teen Vogue editor-in-chief] Amy Astley and her team reporting in to her, as before. We are making a change in reporting structure on the business side. Susan Plagemann will oversee the sales and marketing teams. We feel this will only serve to strengthen the power of both brands. Jason Wagenheim has chosen to leave the company after the Thanksgiving holiday. 

The news comes in a bleak year for fashion magazines at parent company Condé Nast. The publisher announced back in August that Lucky Magazine would be spun off before finally shuttering the brand completely in November. Last week Condé-owned GQ reportedly suffered a round of layoffs in an effort to focus more on digital, with WWD reporting rumors that Glamour may soon face staff or budget cuts as well. 

Spearheaded by Astley, who was hand-picked for the job by Wintour, Teen Vogue has long been considered a survivor in the teen magazine landscape. As The New York Times noted in a profile in 2013, the year the magazine celebrated its 10th anniversary, it “has outlasted YM, Elle Girl, Teen People, Cosmo Girl! and Teen, which all folded.”

However, like many other print magazines, the Times also reported that the glossy had seen a decline in sales of “half what they were when the magazine began.” 

Only time will tell what comes next for the mag, but for now, it lives to see another day.

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The Republican Anti-Enlightenment Express Rolls On In Another Goofy Debate

November 12, 2015 by  
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So, another Republican presidential debate brings more confirmation of what the Republican Party has become. It’s probably the most reactionary major conservative party of any in the advanced industrial world.

It can’t be a coincidence that the two most aggressive know-nothings in the race, Donald Trump and Ben Carson, are the two leaders in the polls. The Republican Party has become the anti-Enlightenment party, extremely antithetical to the Enlightenment ethic of expanding knowledge which animated the founders of this nation.

Half of Republican voters don’t believe in evolution; only 37 percent believe in this long settled matter of how life on Earth exists. And until very recently, most Republicans were climate change deniers. Only recent developments, such as the Pope’s intervention and major new alarums from nearly all scientists involved have altered that. Without, of course, altering the insistence by the fossil fuel funders of the Republican Party that nothing is to be done.

As I noted three months ago, whatever happens to Trump — and right now he is still at least a co-frontrunner for the nomination — Trumpism, like the Palinism which preceded it, is well established. Few if any candidates will disagree with the core tenets of know-nothingism. They’re afraid to.

If there are Republican candidates who stand up for evolution and climate science — which is to say, for science and knowledge in general — they sure aren’t establishing any profiles in courage on the Republican debate stage. What is standard in most civilized circles on the planet is rare to vanishing in the Republican presidential race.

The silence of the disappointing Jeb Bush and supposedly rising Marco Rubio — candidates arguably in hailing distance of the top tier, and supposedly at least halfway educated — speaks volumes.

Rubio seemed deft on the Milwaukee stage, but it’s all relative. Rubio needs to beware the fate of the chameleon on plaid.

Elected to the U.S. Senate just five years ago as a Tea Party fave rave, he’s now seen as the smart choice of establishment “moderate” conservatives who throw up their hands at the poor performance of Jeb Bush. He sure doesn’t want to talk about his “furriner friendly,” and corporate friendly immigration plan any more than he wants to talk about evolution. But before he embraced reactionary populism to win high office he has done nothing with, Rubio was a good ole boy down Tallahassee way as the Bush-mentored speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.

I think of Rubio as an Obama ultra-light. He may take flight, but he has the same sort of preparedness problems Obama had, only more intensely so.

A state legislator just a few years before he began running for president. A one-term U.S. senator even less engaged than Obama, who never held a meeting of the the important subcommittee he chaired. A personable person of color with the difference being that his actual constituency, Cuban-Americans, is a very small and atypical minority of Latinos. And his origin story is false. His family didn’t flee Castro’s Cuba, as Rubio long claimed, they moved to Miami years before the Communist revolution.

Rubio is a would-be Republican Obama who went to lesser universities and can give a pleasant talk but not a great speech. (Obama’s 2004 Democratic convention keynote address, the making of his national reputation, is one of the classic speeches of the modern era.)

But to consider Rubio is to consider a future that might never arrive. Not if honorary Bush ‘bro Mike Murphy and his massively-funded LA-based super PAC Right To Rise has anything to say about it.

Meanwhile, we have the frontrunners, the know-nothingism they reflect, and the, er, message discipline that imposes on the rest of the field.

Trump, who until recently didn’t know the difference between the Kurds and the Quds Force, recouped from recent slides Tuesday night with a more coherent form of bombast. His highlight? There will be a “deportation force” to round up and expel 11 million illegal immigrants now part of the mosaic of American life.

Let’s see, what color shirts should this force deputized to round up brown people wear? Let’s think …

And then there was Dr. Carson.

For a party supposedly so opposed to affirmative action, the latter-day Republican Party sure seems to practice it with regard to African American presidential candidates. So long as they push a far right political agenda, that is.

How else to explain how in two straight election cycles two absolute ignoramuses have gotten their turns as Republican presidential frontrunner?

In 2012, it was Herman Cain, the fast food mogul and inspirational speaker who insisted that the People’s Republic of China should be prevented from getting nuclear weapons. Sure, Herman. Let’s send a mission back in time and stop that from happening, you know, over 50 years ago.

Now we have Dr. Ben Carson, whose frequently hateful ignorance had already been on ample display, attacking Islam, calling Obamacare “slavery,” claiming that Jews in World War II could have avoided the SS round-ups for death camps if they carried handguns, saying that gay marriage causes bestiality.

On Tuesday night, he hit new heights of errant nonsense.

Consider this Carson gem about how to defeat Isis:

We’re talking about global jihadists. And their desire is to destroy us and to destroy our way of life. So we have to be saying, how do we make them look like losers? Because that’s the way that they’re able to gather a lot of influence.

And I think in order to make them look like losers, we have to destroy their caliphate. And you look for the easiest place to do that? It would be in Iraq. And if — outside of Anbar in Iraq, there’s a big energy field. Take that from them. Take all of that land from them. We could do that, I believe, fairly easily, I’ve learned from talking to several generals, and then you move on from there.

This is just witless gibberish. It’s not only very stupid, it’s obviously dishonest. There isn’t a general in the world who would say that.

Carson should stay away from all military-related topics, since he really doesn’t have a clue. Despite having been Detroit’s top Junior ROTC cadet as a teenager. Which means precisely squat in terms of actual military experience.

A publication recently shot down Carson’s long-standing claim in his biography and lectures of having turned down a “full scholarship” to West Point. Which supposedly had been arranged after he met with General William Westmoreland, our unsuccessful commander in the Vietnam War. Except Westmoreland wasn’t in Detroit when Carson claims they met. And Westmoreland, not incidentally a terrible general, wasn’t in a position to offer a full scholarship. Having gotten into West Point myself, I know that it doesn’t give out full scholarships, it admits people who win appointments from members of Congress, the Senate, and the Executive Branch. You’re not “on scholarship” at West Point, you are being paid as a member of the U.S. Army.

Carson doesn’t even know the right terminology to tell the fake story he has now backed away from. One wonders, too, about the folks who have been reading this nonsense and sitting through it in his lectures over the years as well. Are they that ignorant about the military, too? Or do they not care because he’s mouthing the platitudes they long to hear?

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Cairo Seminar Wrestles With Media Hate Speech

November 11, 2015 by  
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“Sticks and stones will break my bones
But words will never harm me.”

Journalists, academicians and activists at a seminar in Egypt this month would beg to differ, notably since hate speech by and via various media can take a life of their own and lead to untold damage.

Seminar on hate speech at AUC (Abu-Fadil)

“The effect and influence of communications in policy making and the need for policy makers to take communications into account has increased exponentially,” said Nabil Fahmy, the dean of the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the American University in Cairo (AUC).

What’s needed is critical thinking in the education system, more so than media censorship, to minimize and end hate speech, said Fahmy, a former Egyptian ambassador to the United States.

Ambassador & Dean Nabil Fahmy (Abu-Fadil)

The seminar was organized by the London-based Ethical Journalism Network (EJN), AUC, the Norwegian Institute of Journalism (NIJ) and the Egypt Media Development Program (EMDP).

The event dubbed “Turning the Page of Hate in the Arab World” grouped experts from Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, Norway, Britain, Iraq, Tunisia, Morocco, and Jordan. Participants from other countries were unable to attend due to visa issues.

“The problem still remains the lack of professionalism in the industry,” noted Tarek Atia, EMPD’s CEO, adding that the media had been left behind for decades and were having trouble dealing with the digital revolution.

EMPD has a website called Zahma.com “for the digital junkie” focused on quality content. Its other media product is called Mantiqti (Arabic for my region or district), for hyperlocal news.

Joining the discussion by Skype, EJN director Aidan White reminded conferees the seminar was a follow-up to a similar event last year in Beirut.

“The Arab World and the Middle East are in a profound crisis,” he said. “Journalists know how information can be overwhelmed by hate.”

EJN’s Aidan White via Skype (Abu-Fadil)

But he struck a positive note in a background paper circulated before the seminar saying everywhere the EJN detected within Arab media a wish to strengthen the craft of journalism to reinforce ethical values in reporting.

White also called for the creation of fresh alliances to groups committed to freedom of expression and democracy.

For Zahera Harb, a senior lecturer at London’s City University, journalism in the Arab World has become a political institution swayed by events and the power players who make them happen.

AUC media professor Rasha Abdulla felt the problem was in defining hate speech and pinpointing intent, adding that the former had to be defined as narrowly as possible given authorities’ tendency to paint it with a wide brush.

“How do you balance privacy with freedom of expression?” she asked, suggesting that media literacy was very important in countering hate speech.

AUC Professor Rasha Abdulla (Abu-Fadil)

She took issue with media monitoring initiatives that lead to regulation, which, in the Arab World, meant control and would be abused by those in power, she argued.

Mohamed El-Allali from Mohammed V University in Rabat said Morocco, where different ethnic and minority groups coexist but occasionally clash, had instituted mechanisms to diminish hate speech and promote forgiveness.

Moroccan expert Mohamed El-Allali (Abu-Fadil)

Veteran Egyptian journalist Abeer Saady, with years of experience in conflict zones and a trainer of fellow journalists on covering wars, said the impact resulting in hate speech could be enormous.

“Media ethics isn’t a luxury, journalists need constant training,” she said.

Basim Tweisi, the head of the Jordan Media Institute (JMI), said Arab newsrooms were averse to criticism and as the region is undergoing transition, it suffers from contradictions that are reflected in the media.

EJN coordinator Oona Solberg introduced the Accountable Journalism database that compiles international codes of media ethics from around the world and is the largest resource of its kind.

Screen shot of Accountable Journalism website

Most of the 400+ codes listed here were drafted and adopted by an individual outlet (e.g. a newspaper), a sector of the media industry (e.g. broadcasting), a union/ association of journalists, a press council or a press club. The exceptions consist of synthetic codes, codes imposed by a government or codes recommended by international bodies or militant citizens. Some codes are specialized. Most are general. They differ in length from half a page to more than 50 pages — but they rarely differ on basic principles.

Participants pledged to work on a hate speech code of conduct, discussed setting up a monitoring arm to check on media violators, seek ways to implement ethical behavior, and search for funding to sustain their efforts.

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Fox Host Says He Would Have Replaced Mizzou Football Players

November 10, 2015 by  
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Shortly after University of Missouri president Tim Wolfe resigned on Monday in the midst of massive protests about racial inequality on campus, Fox News’ “The Five” held a discussion on the controversy. 

Wolfe had been under pressure to step down for months, but things grew increasingly dire last weekend after 30 black football players said they would not play their next game if he stayed on.

‘The Five’ co-host Eric Bolling lashed out at the players, saying they deserved to be kicked off the team.

“I would say ‘Fine, goodbye. We’ll find 25 or 30 new ball players to sit in. We may lose the rest of the season,’” he said. “I’ll take anyone on this team, hey I’ll take the basketball team. You want to come play football? Hey, let’s go and see how it works out.”

Fortunately for the student athletes, their actual coach was more supportive.

“The Mizzou Family stands as one,” head coach Gary Pinkel said on Sunday. “We are united. We are behind our players.”

H/T Media Matters

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Dear Christians: Shouting About Starbucks Cups Is Not Helping

November 9, 2015 by  
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You may have seen this video by perpetually bearded, squinting, close-yelling, backward hat-wearing, Christian video guy Joshua Feuersetin or others from him. He’s now ubiquitous social media Christian culture.

In this latest parking lot short film, Feuerstein once again rattles off some loud, raw-throated, WWE-style, machine gun pontificating; this time sermonizing about Starbucks’ clear and sinister conspiracy against Christmas and his “brilliant” outsmarting of the system (while by the way, boldly revealing that he’s a concealed handgun carrier — a fact that should send shivers down the spine of any reasonable coffee drinking American).

I don’t know Joshua Feuersetin. I can’t see his heart, only what I see him doing.

I can’t speak to his motives, only to his methods:

He’s not helping.

These continual strident, shouting, red-faced rebuttals to Atheists and non-Christians and corporations are doing exponentially more harm than good in the world beyond the already-convinced, representing Christians as aggressive, bitter brats forever challenging everyone to fisticuffs.

I suppose some hearty cheers from the choir might fool him into believing otherwise, but outside of the protected, amen-ing bubble of like-minded church folk, good, kind rational people are flatly rejecting these messages because they realize that they are saturated in venom, oozing with ridicule, and that they don’t bear even a passing resemblance to Jesus of Nazareth.

And the sad thing is, Joshua isn’t an anomaly at all.

So much of our modern Christian culture (from talk radio show hosts to bullhorn screaming preachers to brazen church signs) has devolved into faith-justified antagonism and sanctified fight-picking in the name of Jesus — and I just don’t get it.

I don’t even recognize so much of this stuff as being of Christ anymore.

When did the Good News of Jesus become a massive middle finger to anyone who doesn’t believe what we believe or express faith the way we personally express it?

When did it become more important to confront others from a distance than to seek to understand them up close?

When did our desire for conflict begin to trump our pull toward compassion?

When did it become mandatory for the surrounding culture to conform to our inner religious preferences?

When did the role of Christians in the world, change from life-giving, peace-making, love-lavishing beacons of goodness and mercy — to terminally persecuted malcontents always looking for a fist fight?

When did shopping mall and coffee shop holiday semantics give us license to be jerks?

When did the words “Merry Christmas” become a gotcha moment?

In so many ways Christianity has lost the plot and bastardized the message, and people are right to reject it.

Until we can provide an expression of faith that better mirrors the life and ministry of Jesus, I don’t blame anyone for opting out. In fact, I count those who view a clip like this and are moved to disgust, as wise and quite reasonable.

Christians, never ever let the numbers fool you. I don’t care how many people read what you write or attend your church or click on your video or like your meme, if love and unity are not at the core of it all, it’s wasted attention and it serves only to divide and separate humanity.

I don’t believe that is Joshua Feuerstein’s intention here. He may well be a loving, faithful, devoted Christian, seeking to do good and to share a message of hope with the world; but as with much of our modern religion (churches, ministries, high-profile believers), I think it’s getting lost in translation. It’s coming across, not as good news, but as taunts and threats, and that is something we should be burdened by and repent of here and wherever we see it happening.

I really don’t want you to take Joshua Feuerstein’s word for it that this is how Jesus calls his people to live, but don’t take mine either.

To those reading this who may not know what Jesus did or said, or just what his life and ministry were built on (or those who used to know but have forgotten) this is a really good place to start. It gives a beautiful model of how faith should, can, and must be reflected in the world — even where it is not welcome.

Joshua Feurestein is not the enemy here, but anything that distorts the vision and damages people is. Good Jesus-loving folks often do dumb things, make poor decisions, and send lousy messages. (I know this firsthand.) Wherever we see it happening, Christians need to provide an alternative voice for the watching world and I hope this is one.

Today violence, hunger, poverty, racism, sexism, bigotry and homophobia still have far too much power in the world and far too much real estate in our hearts.

This holiday season, we who claim faith should fix our gaze on far deeper things than coffee cups, and spend these days leaving a trail of goodness and light; one that alters the balance and tips the scales toward justice.

As for me, I’m going to keep trying to clearly and respectfully live my personal faith convictions. While doing so I’ll seek to treat people with dignity and decency and gentleness; not needing them to believe what I believe in order to live well alongside them, and not needing to live each day like I’m at war with the world to feel like I’m honoring God.

And even though I’m not even a coffee drinker, I think I’ll head to Starbucks today, purchase a red cup, smile warmly to the person who serves me, give them an extravagant tip, and order a drink.

When they ask what my name is, I’ll simply say:


(Well, that or John.)

Then I’ll ask theirs.

This post originally appeared on JohnPavlovitz.com.

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